This week, Year 8 students travelled to Castleford to visit RSPB Fairburn Ings with their biology teachers, to develop and practise their ecological sampling techniques that they have been studying in their biology lessons.
They used quadrats and random sampling to compare the richness of plant species between an untrampled habitat in the unmanaged meadow and a trampled habitat in the picnic area. Before they started, the students looked across the meadow and saw “just grass”, but afterwards they could identify ribwort plantain, creeping cinquefoil and germander speedwell, to name but a few.
At the pond dipping platform, the students identified freshwater invertebrates from water boatmen and damselfly nymphs to pond snails and bloodworms. From their results, they could then calculate a biotic index. Such information is used by ecologists to monitor species diversity and investigate the effects of human activities on the environment.
Many students then thought it prudent to investigate the diversity of ice cream in the gift shop! Overall it was a greatly beneficial experience for students to get out of the classroom and study their biology curriculum in the great outdoors. It also provided students a deeper appreciation for why these experiments and scientific processes are so important for maintaining and protecting biodiversity.
Dr S Barber
Head of Biology